Creation science has risen on the SUNY New Paltz campus against the wishes of some.
On Saturday, May 6, the Adventist Ministry Engaging New Paltz and Black Studies Department held “Origins & Basic Assumptions,” an inaugural conference exploring the debate between evolutionary and creationary science. Spearheaded by Black Studies Chair Major Coleman, the conference made arguments for a science-based creation theory while attempting to disprove evolutionary theory.
The conference boasted having the “largest authentic model of Noah’s ark in the world” on display. A model city was also featured to show how large the ark would have been. Coleman also offered up his sizable book collection on evolution and creation for attendees to peruse.
Coleman took a systematic approach to his argument, breaking his presentation in three parts before arriving upon his conclusion that the universe was created by God in six days and is 6,000 years old: basic assumptions about thought, formal arguments and origin, basic ideas about science and basic ideas about religion.
To begin, he stated that critical thinking is the best way to determine what truth is as opposed to egocentric thought. To think critically, he suggested stating your purpose clearly and recognizing your biases. Sticking to his own advice, he proceeded to explain that his point of view is a black one. He followed up by claiming that black communities primarily subscribe to creationist theories and white communities primarily favor evolutionary theories.
“Evolution is an origin theory created by whites, for whites,” he said. “Blacks are the only racial group where a majority outright reject evolution and they subscribe to a literal biblical creation. The reason is obvious because of the strength of the black church.”
He proceeded to discuss the exclusivity of both theories before delving into the theory of intelligent design, that the universe is too intricate to have been created without some intelligent being.
Following this, he argued for a young universe, relying on tree rings, recorded writing, population growth and other various celestial phenomenons like comets and supernovae as evidence. He then discussed evolution’s violation of natural laws about biological life before ending with a discussion of God’s existence and religion, relying on the Bible and a global concept of God for support.
For Coleman, the purpose behind this event was to provide scientific support for an origin theory of creation held by students of color. He also wishes to start the first written dialogue about the contrasting theories, going as far as to offer $10,000 to any student who can find a qualified scientist to participate.
However, he has not seen any interest in participating from evolutionary studies scholars. Instead, he has heard opposition to the conference being held at all.
Despite being chair of the psychology department and an expert in evolutionary psychology, Glenn Geher was not opposed to the conference.
“For me, freedom of expression and a multitude of ideas is so important in an academic setting,” he said. “The ideas in that conference obviously conflict with a lot of the ideas I have and the scholarship that I do, but I fully endorse their right to hold that conference.”
However, he also maintained that the scientific support for the evolutionary theory on the origin of life is not debatable, and that he does not see the two theories as opposing sides to the same argument. He recognized the potential dangers to turning oneself away from evolution, but said that turning away from ideas is more dangerous.
This notion was reflected by fourth-year marketing major Jerry Cifuentes, who said that “it’s always good to be willing to share someone else’s ideas.”